Mark Pennington

Bloodshot 13 (July 2013)

278986 20130728183459 largeSwierczynski takes a peculiar approach to dealing with Bloodshot’s side of the final Harbinger Wars issue. He makes it as lame as humanly possible.

It’s actually not even Bloodshot’s issue, it’s his sidekick Kara’s issue and his sidekick Kara hasn’t had much presence during the crossover event. She’s his voice of reason, not much else. Babysitter for the kids too.

Speaking of the kids, after spending a couple issues establishing them, Swierczynski dumps them to instead focus on really bad dream sequences. They’re an afterthought to the issue. Valiant must have really wanted to do a crossover special, but by not doing it straightforward, these issues are weak.

The art’s also got problems. Kitson’s has three inkers (himself included) and each of them makes the finished art look different.

It’s a bad issue and left me wondering why anyone would ever want to read another one. It’s rough and pointless.

CREDITS

Living the Dream; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Barry Kitson; inkers, Stefano Gaudiano, Kitson and Mark Pennington; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Rob Steen; editors, Jody LeHeup and Warren Simons; publisher, Valiant Entertainment.

Immortal Weapons 2 (October 2009)

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What a stinker.

The whole thing plays like a bad Marvel horror comic from the seventies, with a team of mercenaries (they have matching outfits, of course) out to retrieve a spider. It’s not any spider, it’s one of the Bride of Nine Spiders’s spiders. There’s a bit of a continuity break, showing the Bride to always be beautiful, when in Immortal Iron Fist flashbacks she wasn’t shown as such.

So, it’s an action horror comic instead of a kung fu horror comic.

Bunn’s writing is occasionally okay—his dialogue is fine—but he’s establishing all these characters in a single issue. The Bride he never gets around to establishing though. She’s barely in her own comic.

Also, Brereton’s problematic—his proportions are off.

It’s just a forced horror comic. Big mistake.

However, great Iron Fist backup. Gaudiano’s inks make Foreman’s pencils fantastic. Still, doesn’t make up for the feature.

CREDITS

The Spider’s Song; writer, Cullen Bunn; penciller, Dan Brereton; inkers, Tom Palmer, Stefano Gaudiano and Mark Pennington; colorist, Paul Mounts. The Caretakers, Part Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; penciller, Travel Foreman; inker, Gaudiano; colorist, June Chung. Letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Immortal Iron Fist 23 (April 2009)

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I think I’ll start with Foreman. He usually does an all right job, but he ends this issue on a terrible full-page panel of the (supposedly) first Iron Fist. He’s got this old guy warped to fit in the panel, his body proportions and perspective a complete mess. It’s terrible finish to the issue because it’s supposed to be scary. Instead it’s weak.

The issue opens with the revelation Davos is untrustworthy. It’s not clear if it’s just him or if it’s the Thunderer too. Swierczynski has a very strange storytelling method for Iron Fist. He contracts things Brubaker and Fraction introduced. For the most part, he sucks the potential out of them. He’s not predictable, he’s simply unoriginal. His Immortal Iron Fist feels like a copy of a copy of a copy. It’s dulled.

Every time Swierczynski seems to be getting better, he drops even further than before.

CREDITS

Escape from the Eighth City, Chapter Two; writer, Duane Swierczynski; pencillers, Travel Foreman, Tonci Zonjic and Timothy Green; inkers, Tom Palmer, Mark Pennington, Zonjic and Green; colorist, Matt Milla; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Warren Simons; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 6 (September 2010)

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Stradley really doesn’t “earn” his ending here.

He decides, on the last issue, to make it all about the protagonist reconciling with her demons and choosing life. It’s inspiration and heart-warming and not at all the story he’d been writing up until this point.

Only this issue and the previous one even hint at the character’s need for internal reconciliation–the comic has a large cast and it’s not like the protagonist gets much page time as anything but the deus ex machina to save her boyfriend’s heinie. Except this time he sort of saves her. It’s actually a rather dramatic sequence–more proof of Stradley’s abilities, regardless of what meaning he chooses to foist on the comic; it’s a shame Leonardi illustrated it.

Alien world, two different types of aliens, flying machines… it should have been an awesome spectacle.

But wasn’t.

Still, the series is a pleasant surprise.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editor, Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 5 (July 2010)

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Stradley compresses here. Weeks and weeks. Maybe even a month. It’s okay until he gets to the action part of the issue, which is then far less interesting than it needs to be. He follows the civilians (the protagonist’s sidekicks who haven’t really done anything since the first issue–oh, wait, her boyfriend’s there) for the last quarter of the issue and they’re boring. Stradley seems to be using them because they give the best device for his exposition….

Coming after the previous issue, with its strong battle scenes, this issue seems not just anemic but out of place. Stadley had been building towards something–each issue intensifying–but this issue lets the tension slacken. Maybe the series needed to be longer.

Leonardi doesn’t, five issues in, redeem himself, but I’ve gotten used to him. I don’t expect anything; when there’s a decent panel, however, I really do appreciate it.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 4 (May 2010)

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The romance between the protagonist and the nerdy guy doesn’t work. He’s not really a nerdy guy, of course, because he used to be in the Marines. Or something. But he’s basically the nerdy guy. He’s even got a nerdy name–I think Die Hard ruined the name Ellis for anyone serious.

But part of the comic needs the romance to be touching and significant and it’s not. Maybe Stradley doesn’t buy it either. He writes zero chemistry between them. They seem like siblings.

Otherwise, it’s a rather good issue. It’s a big invading an alien planet issue so there’s a lot of battle scenes with people and Predators fighting the aliens and then the command scenes with people and Predators standing around worried. It’s a rather well-done invasion issue, actually. Some leaps in time logic for dramatic effect, but it’s good.

Even the art doesn’t annoy too much.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 3 (April 2010)

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Wow… it’s a good issue. All throughout I mean. There’s even a big action sequence at the end and it works. Probably because Stradley writes the sequence instead of just provides a list of actions for Leonardi to draw.

As for the art, it’s still terrible. I might have to revise my opinion. Maybe Leonardi isn’t drawing the protagonist as cheesecake material because he’s simply not willing to take the time. Unless inker Pennington is going all Vince Colletta–there are a bunch of panels where the characters don’t even have faces. It’s not clear if Leonardi just didn’t bother drawing them or if Pennington got out his eraser.

But the art quibbles are somewhat small. Sure, it’s not well drawn, but the writing this time is compelling. It’s a cheap amusement and a well-written one. Stradley’s fast character establishing makes up for all the faceless characters roaming about.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 2 (February 2010)

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Whatever my problems with Leonardi–they go on and on–I have to give him credit. He draws a female character in, basically, a bikini and doesn’t do it with any of the cheesecake objectification most comic book artists would. In fact, I didn’t even realize it; it just seemed the right outfit. (It’s a human wearing a Predator outfit for those who don’t follow Aliens vs. Predator).

This issue follows the same formula as the first one. The beginning is some really dumb action scene, then the actual story starts and it’s good. Stradley gets in some nice homage to Aliens (the movie)–it’s homage because it’s clear what he’s doing and it’s in an Aliens comic, in case anyone’s wondering why I’m in favor of it while I usually use “homage” as a pejorative around here (always with the quotation marks).

Besides the lame action half, it’s decent.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Aliens vs. Predator: Three World War 1 (January 2010)

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It has a flashback. It has an actual flashback to explain the events in previous comic books to explain to the reader what’s pertinent.

I tried the Dark Horse relaunches of Aliens and Predator. Both were atrocious on almost every level, but they also didn’t have any flashbacks to explain the ground situation to readers who hadn’t been loyally reading the Dark Horse licensed titles.

Aliens vs. Predator has a flashback. It comes late in the issue, in the narrative even.

The comic turns around, in terms of writing, about halfway through the issue. It opens badly with a big action scene–Rick Leonardi’s artwork is real weak. I’m shocked Dark Horse relaunched these titles (the others have it too) with such weak, cartoonish artwork. There probably isn’t a single good panel in the book… wait, there’s one.

But Randy Stradley can write and he eventually does.

It’s not terrible.

CREDITS

Writer, Randy Stradley; penciller, Rick Leonardi; inker, Mark Pennington; colorist, Wes Dzioba; letterer, Blambot!; editors, Samantha Robertson and Chris Warner; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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